Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Golden opportunity to fight heart disease

Heart Beat

Golden opportunity to fight heart disease

It might be time to add too little vitamin D to the list of things that promote heart disease.

Sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D usually draws attention for its role in building bone. But it does so much more than that. Vitamin D helps calm the immune system. It may fight colon, breast, prostate, and other cancers. It is involved in controlling blood pressure and blood sugar. And studies have linked too little vitamin D with peripheral artery disease, heart failure, and deaths from heart disease.

A report from the Framingham Heart Study bolsters the notion that vitamin D is good for the heart. Among more than 1,700 middle-aged men and women, all initially free of cardiovascular disease, those with low vitamin D levels were more likely than those with "normal" vitamin D levels to have had a heart attack or stroke or to have developed angina, heart failure, or some other cardiovascular condition over an eight-year period. This was especially true for folks with low vitamin D and high blood pressure.

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